Thursday, August 10, 2006

St. Johnswort

St. Johnswort is easy to identify because its leaves have transparent round “windows.” In England it was smoked on bonfires on St. John’s Eve and then hung in doorways to keep out evil spirits. St. John’s Day or St. Jean Baptiste day, June 24, is important around here because our river was discovered by Champlain that day, hence the name.

I have noticed that St. Johnswort has become a popular herb for those who dose themselves. I have heard people (always women) give out herbal information as if it were scientifically proved. My herb books are fascinating reading but definitely not scientific. Once I heard a woman in the health food store giving advice about preparing a tea from the mistletoe she was selling. Mistletoe is poisonous, affects the heart, and was used to cause abortions. The herbalists were usually women and their clients were women. In the past many different herbs were used to cause abortions. I think many of these must have worked by causing ruptured blood vessels.

The strength of the herb is determined by where it is grown and in what soil. Water hemlock, poison in some climates, can be eaten in other climates. It grows wild here in the ditches of the road to the golf course.

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